The Project of Gratitude
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
George Herbert, early 17th century British poet and pastor, wrote: Thou that hast given so much to me, Give one thing more, a grateful heart. Not thankful, when it pleaseth me; As if thy blessings had spare days: But such a heart, whose pulse may be Thy praise. Thou that hast given so much to me. We are all recipients of untold generosity and goodness. We are surrounded, undergirded by goodness. You have at your disposal more resources of provision and partnership than you can possibly imagine. My beloved seminary teacher, Glenn Hinson, would say, “God is constantly beaming love energies to you every second, every minute, every hour, every day.” Give one thing more, a grateful heart. Gratitude is essential to the moral life. It confronts our sinful tendency toward autonomous individualism, corrosive greed and selfish pride, and redirects us to the necessity of relationship and community in our lives. Our friends in addiction recovery make a daily “gratitude list“ as they work their program toward sobriety. It is especially important for them to do this work during times of stress and conflict. Transformation occurs as gratitude dislodges the old griefs and grudges set in stone long ago. Gratitude is the antidote to despair. The more gladness for what we have, the less grief for what we do not have. Hope for tomorrow’s promise comes from gratitude for yesterday’s provision. Not a bad meditation for a pandemic! Not thankful, when it pleaseth me; As if thy blessings had spare days: For sure, we are presently in a season of national conviction about our failure to extend the blessings of liberty to all our fellow citizens. We are at yet another inflection point of awareness that the American constitutional provision of “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" is, as the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, a promissory note that has yet to be paid. Even so, we who are privileged and connected can learn much from our marginalized neighbors about gratitude. I have observed that it is precisely these underserved and underprivileged communities that seem to incarnate the most brilliant expressions of gratitude and generosity. But such a heart, whose pulse may be Thy praise. Practice gratitude. Work the program of gratitude. Rehearse gratitude until we know its lines so thoroughly and instinctively that they become our own. As the old hymn says, “count your blessings/name them one by one.” Blessed Thanksgiving. Rev. Charles Foster Johnson, Founder and Executive Director, Pastors For Texas Children
Our Gratitude List
We’ve made a gratitude list. It is not complete, never is completed. We will no doubt inadvertently leave someone deserving off of it. That is why gratitude is a daily discipline. There is so much solidarity and assistance in our lives that the moral task of giving thanks is an ongoing one.
For our 2500 pastors, faith leaders, and congregational and community advocates who stand strong in neighborhoods and communities all over Texas for quality public education for all children.
For our PTC dedicated team comprised of Dr. Charles Luke, co-director; Cameron Vickrey, associate director; Brandon Grebe, director of development; Louis Malfaro, senior consultant; and Jay Prichard, campaign consultant.
For our visionary trustees under the leadership of our president, Rev. John Ogletree, senior minister of the First Metropolitan Baptist Church of Houston: Pat Ayres, Austin; Rev. Bobby Broyles, Dallas; Anette Carlisle, Amarillo; Dr. Jim Chadwell, Superintendent, Eagle Mountain/Saginaw ISD, Rev. David Currie, San Angelo; Bill Jones, Dallas; Rev. Suzii Paynter, Waco; David Russell, Amarillo; Rev. Andy Stoker, senior minister, First United Methodist Church of Dallas, Lou Street, Fort Worth.
For all our amazing donors and partners whose generosity makes our message and mission possible, including those whose investments provide our structural funding: Chris Huckabee, Huckabee and Associates; “5” Company; Malcolm and Lou Street; Patsy Ayres; John and Eula Mae Baugh family foundation, Charles Butt and Raise Your Hand Texas; Goldthwaite Festival.
The incredible education organizations and unions who make up a courageous coalition on behalf of our children, and who are such mentors to us in our work, especially Raise Your Hand Texas and Dr. Michelle Smith; AFT and Texas AFT; ATPE and Monty Exter; TSTA; TCTA; TASA and Dr. Kevin Brown; TASB; TACS; TREA; Powell, Youngblood, and Taylor; TARS; Hillco and David Anderson; Texas Educators Vote and Laura Yeager; FOTPS, Scott and Leslie Milder and Jennifer Storm; Walsh and Associates; Troy Reynolds and Texans for Public Education; TAMSA; Texas Parent PAC; Reform Action Committee and Rabbi David Segal, Carol Burris and Marla Kilfoyle, Network for Public Education; One + One Dallas; Educate Texas and Jennifer Esterline. Simply put, Texas is fortunate to have this ironclad coalition holding the line against the privatization of our public schools. If we had to identify one single factor explaining our success in Texas, it would be this. Other states must construct similar coalitions in order to advance the cause of public education throughout the nation.
Certain individuals have played— and continue to play—an indispensable role in our mission: Diane Ravitch, Mike Moses, Barry Haenisch, Randi Weingarten, Don Rogers, Blake Powell, Carolyn Boyle, Thomas Ratliff, Bennett Ratliff, Julie Freeman Haney, Patti Everitt, Julie Valentine, Ed Martin, Rev. Steve Wells, Rev. George Mason, Rev. Dawn Darwin Weaks, Rev. Dave Phillips, Rev. Sonja Phillips, Rev. Jeff Johnson, Rev. Holly Bandel, Rev. Larry Bethune, Rev. John Elford, Rev. Kyle Henderson, Marv Knox, Ken Camp, Rev. Mitch Randall, Rev. Kevin Cosby, Jim Walsh, Stephen Reeves, Mark Wingfield, Taylor Duncan, Allen Weeks, Ryan Valentine.
Our dear colleagues leading our other state affiliates: Rev. Clark Frailey, Pastors for Oklahoma Kids; Rev. Sharon Felton, Pastors For Texas Children; Amy Frogge, Pastors For Texas Children; Rev. Dawn Flowers, Pastors For Texas Children; Rev. Rachel Gunter Shapard, Pastors for Florida Children; Rev. Suzanne Miller, Pastors for North Carolina Children; Rev. Lucas Dorion, Pastors for Alabama Children.
As you know, because we are clergy, we do not endorse candidates for public office. But there are Texas legislators whose endorsement of us and our mission has been invaluable: Jimmie Don Aycock, Jim Keffer, Byron Cook, Ramon Romero, Kel Seliger, Beverly Powell, Nathan Johnson, Drew Darby, Four Price, Ken King, Diego Bernal, Rafael Anchia, Speaker Joe Straus, John Turner, Dan Huberty, Charlie Geren, Gary VanDeaver, Judith Zaffirini.
This “great cloud of witnesses” surrounds us. We are profoundly grateful for them.